EAGLE — An old tavern from the Dodge County Town of Ashippun will find a new home at Old World Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has announced it has begun construction of Brewing Experience building at Old World Wisconsin, a 600-acre history attraction site in Waukesha County.
With construction scheduled through the 2021 season, the Brewing Experience building will be the first new structure completed as part of a $5.5 million project that represents the firsts two phases of a larger, multi-year master plan that will transform the site’s entry area with a reimagined Welcome experience. “It’s an opportunity for us to position ourselves as one of the most dynamic history destinations in the Midwest,” said Dan Freas, Old World Wisconsin site director.
The “grain to glass” experience will build on Old World Wisconsin’s more popular features, its historic brewing program created in partnership with the Museum of Beer and Brewing. The facility will allow guests to explore the state’s brewing heritage.
Upon completion of the first two phases of the project, visitors can explore Wisconsin’s brewing heritage through demonstrations, workshops, tastings and other activities in the building. They can also immerse themselves in an authentic 1930s rural Wisconsin tavern that will be relocated to the site from Old Ashippun.
Phase one of the project includes the construction of the Brewing Experience building and a foundation for historic Wittnebel’s Tavern, which will be relocated from its original home in Old Ashippun, near Oconomowoc, where it was founded in 1906 and operated by two generations of the Wittnebel family until 1987.
The Wisconsin Historical Foundation, the non-profit fundraising arm of the Wisconsin Historical Society, is working to raise the additional funds needed to complete phase two of the project, which will include the restoration of the tavern and construction of an outdoor beer garden.
“This is a very critical project for Old World Wisconsin, one that positions us well for our future,” said Freas. “This Brewing Experience, and the larger plan to reimagine our entire entry area, will transform how we’re able to serve guests for decades to come. We’re excited to sees this dream become a reality and grateful to all who donate to make it happen.”
The building will be available to rent for weddings and other private gatherings. “It’s a historic site for all seasons and all ages, and truly a Wisconsin treasurer,” Freas said.
Old World Wisconsin was able to officially break ground on the first phase of the project the first week of December. The society has contracted with Aro Eberle Architects of Madison for its master plan of the new Welcome Experience and hired J.H. Hassinger Construction Services of Menomonee Falls as the general contractor.
Work on additional phases from the master plan will follow as funds are secured. The plans include a new guest entry complex and a combination of other new structures and the renovation of restoration of existing buildings.